KODAK, Tenn. – The Tennessee Smokies split a doubleheader with the Mississippi Braves Friday night, falling in Game 1, 3-2, and winning Game 2, 7-2. The Smokies are now 32-17 on the year, and with the loss in Game 1 snap their nine-game winning streak. The Braves are now 20-29 for the 2011 campaign.
Both offenses struggled to open the first game, as starters J.J. Hoover and Chris Rusin held them scoreless through two innings. Mississippi then took a brief 1-0 lead in the third when Jesus Sucre doubled to lead off the inning and Mycal Jones brought him in with a two-out single.
In the bottom half, Josh Vitters reached on a hit by pitch and Nelson Perez singled to lead things off. After a Jae-Hoon Ha walk, Ryan Flaherty doubled to center, scoring two runs and giving the Smokies a 2-1 lead.
Rusin pitched five solid innings allowing one run on three hits while striking out four. Kevin Rhoderick came in and gave up a run in the sixth inning on a RBI single by Donell Linares, tying the game at two.
Smokies reliever Rafael came in the ninth and didn’t fare as well either allowing a single to Cory Harrilchak to start the inning, and C.J. Retherford put Mississippi ahead with an RBI double to score Harrilchak.
Benino Prudena closed it out in the ninth for his fourth save of the year. J.J. Hoover (2-3) picked up the win for Mississippi, and Dolis (1-3) recorded the loss.
MLB All-Star catcher Geovany Soto went 0-for-3 in his first of two rehab games with Tennessee.
The Smokies offense didn’t wait around in the nightcap, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the first when Vitters and Matt Spencer drove in runs with back-to-back RBI singles. The lead grew to 4-0 in the second, as Luis Flores scored on a throwing error by C Matt Kennelly and Jae-Hoon Ha doubled to drive in P Rob Whitenack.
Whitenack tossed 2.2 innings before giving way to newly added Smokie Ryan Searle.
In the fifth, Mississippi cut the lead in half when Kennelly followed a Antoan Richardson single with a two-run homer, off Searle to make it 4-2.
Spencer walked and Nate Samson singled with two outs in the bottom half, then Luis Flores came through, belting his fifth homer of the year to extend the Smokies lead to 7-2.
Searle (1-0) picked up the win in his Smokies debut, going 2.1 innings and allowing two runs on two hits. Relievers Ty’Relle Harris and Jeff Beliveau combined for two no-hit innings in the sixth and seventh.